One of the most common excuses people make for not taking good care of themselves is, “I don’t have time!” Well, try this quote from the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu on for size: “Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time’ is to say ‘I don’t want to.’”
Once you experience firsthand the benefits that come very quickly and last a lifetime, you will get the motivation to make more time for your health. After all, what’s more important than your health? Start with these 6 simple tricks!
1. Prioritize Exercise
Find ways to work exercise into your schedule as it is. Park farther from your destination so that you will be walking 10 minutes to and from your destination. Walk or bicycle to do your errands. Take the stairs whenever you can. The next time you find yourself passively watching television, multitask! Do some squats, leg lifts, and other stationary exercises.
2. Take a Class to Stay in Shape
A class will keep you accountable to show up each week, keep you interested and challenged, and best of all, you will already have the time scheduled in. If you pay for six classes in advance – what about yoga, kickboxing, or tai chi – you will be more motivated to go, if for no other reason than to not waste money. By the time you have completed five weeks in a row, you may have a new healthy habit!
3. Add Relaxation to Your Nightly Ritual
Let a relaxation practice piggyback on before-bed habits that are already in place. Don’t you already brush your teeth, wash your face, and perform a few other rituals? Factor in just 6 more minutes to practice relaxation. It will help you fall asleep more quickly, improve your energy level, and benefit your heart and stress level. Lie down, close your eyes, and slow your respiration to deep, abdominal breathing. With each exhalation, utter the word “calm” in your mind, and focus on relaxing each area of your body in sequence, starting from the top of your head and moving all the way down to your toes.
4. Work your Way Up to a Routine
Everyone has 6 minutes! To start a stress-relieving routine, try doing relaxation or meditation for just 6 minutes – add 1 minute every day and work your way up to 10 or 15 minutes. You will barely notice when you add a minute a day.
5. Plan to Cook
Takeout and prepackaged foods may be quick and easy, but they are also expensive and unhealthy. So get cooking! Prepping produce does not have to be a lot of work, especially nowadays when there are pre-cut vegetables, bagged lettuce, and minced garlic. Start with pre-prepped conveniences and work your way to fully prepping from scratch. Try letting tools and time do the work for you. Invest in a pressure cooker or a slow cooker to eliminate time standing over the stove. Make big portions and double batches of soups, stews, lasagnas, or enchiladas. Freeze some in single-sized portions for an easy meal in the near future.
6. Stock Up for Success
You are what you eat – and you eat what you have on hand. So bag the chips and fill your pantry with healthy staples. Instead of a pan of brownies on the counter, have a bowl of fresh fruit, which cues you to indulge in a healthy snack. Gradually remove the no-nutrition items from your pantry and replace with healthy staples like oatmeal, brown rice and other grains, beans, savory spreads like pesto and hummus, nut butters, nuts and seeds, olive oil, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and aromatic herbs and spices to dress your meals up.